Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Revitalizing Ivers Square

Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Ivers Square gazebo reconstruction scheduled to be done by May 6 in time for Tunes at Twilight in the 2019 series.
Photo by Madison Little

The renovation of Ivers Square gazebo, a longtime fixture in the Cape Girardeau community, is nearing completion in a move to revitalize the historic public space.

The gazebo is located next to the Common Pleas Courthouse and is a part of a makeover on the property that will include the installation of a statue inspired by local events from the Civil War era.

Old Town Cape special projects coordinator Sarah LaVenture said the gazebo will remain intact, but the remodel will help preserve the structure and return it to its former glory in 1925.

“It will still have the original columns and base, but the lattice roof was not doing a whole lot to save it,” LaVenture said.

She said the lattice roof was the only part of the gazebo they removed, and its replacement will remain the same in size.

Along with remodeling the gazebo, Old Town Cape will redo the landscape and add seating around the fountain next to the gazebo.

LaVenture said the funding for this project will be covered by a Partners and Preservation grant Old Town Cape received in Dec. 2017. The $127,650 project was selected by the public.

The inspiration for the remodel originated from conversations among members of Old Town Cape and the Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission who wanted to return some of the original historic characters to downtown.

“Ivers Square was the perfect place to start this project because it is where they host Tunes at Twilight, and it is a public gathering space,” LaVenture said.

Tunes at Twilight is a concert series Old Town Cape puts on through the summer and into the fall.

Not only is the gazebo used for musical performances, but it can also be rented out by the public for other events.

Another improvement to Ivers Square is the commissioning of a United States Colored Troop statue to be located in front of the Courthouse Annex. The statue honors men like James Ivers, a former slave, who enlisted with the Union Army in Cape Girardeau during the Civil War and served with the 56th U.S. Colored Infantry. The square bears his name.

Local historian Denise Lincoln has led efforts to have this statue cast and placed in Ivers Square. According to Lincoln’s prospectus, “The Public Square: Inclusive History at the Court of Common Pleas - Cape Girardeau,” two other statues from the same mold are located in Nashville National Cemetery and Freedom Park in Helena, Arkansas.

The original mold for the statue was supposed to be good for about six castings, but the mold diminished faster than expected.

“The fact that we are getting this is big,” LaVenture said. “It will be the third and final one and then they are destroying the mold for good.”

The statue is solely based on a separate grant from the gazebo of $10,000. The statue itself costs $45,000, but Old Town Cape has worked toward an overall fundraising goal of $55,000 to cover the costs for the statue and surrounding landscaping.

Due to the production time of the custom-made materials for the gazebo, construction for it is at a 10-week stand still.

LaVenture said they hope to have the revitalization of Ivers Square finished by May 6 in time for Tunes at Twilight in the 2019 series.

The statue dedication is scheduled for June 8.